B i o g r a p h y

From the Journal of Association of Jewish Refugees in Great Britain AJR, January 1974, page 7:

 

Mr. Kurt Loewenstein (Tel Aviv), who died at the age of 71, was a member of that generation of German Jewish publicists who combined their deeply rooted Zionist convictions with a wide humanitarian outlook.

 

Originating from the Jewish youth movement he worked, under Dr. Robert Weltsch, on the editorial staff of the Juedische Rundschau from 1933 until all Jewish periodicals were prohibited in 1938. • This was a time when a particularly high degree of courage and skill was required to keep the Jews in Germany informed on current events and to help them to retain their morale and self-confidence. He emigrated to Palestine shortly before the outbreak of war and later joined the editorial staff of the "MB", the German language weekly of the AJR's fraternal organization in Israel. 

 

There again, his articles on current events testified to his courageous, self-critical and undogmatic personality. As an author he also dealt with wider issues connected with the position of the Jews in Central Europe. He contributed a treatise on "Die innerjuedische Reaktion auf die Krise der deutschen Demokratie" to the symposium "Entscheidungsjahr 1932" published by the Leo Baeck Institute and. as the result of thorough research work in Zurich, completed a book about Thomas Mann's attitude to the Jewish question which will be published shortly.

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Translation from German of the article by Hans Tramer in memory of  Kurt Loewenstein, published in "MB", 23 November 1973.

 

Kurt Loewenstein 

It is always hard to say farewell, especially to a friend with whom one has been most intimately acquainted since youth. It has been almost five decades since Kurt Loewenstein became a companion and – literally – a fellow-traveler, at least when it came to Zionist and general political views. The discussions and debates with him, occurring every day and concerning every event, distilling his view of things – had become a necessity of life, and living without them is still unthinkable. All who knew him, and above all his great readership, know what a great loss has been suffered in our ranks. 

He, who we already thought on the way to recovery, was carried off by a sudden death on November 12, shortly after his 71st birthday. Kurt Loewenstein was originally from Breslau, where as a young student he already played a significant and often crucial role in the Jewish and Zionist youth movement. His family's house on Gabitzstrasse in Breslau was the meeting point for a select group of young Zionists, where the problems of Zionism and of being Jewish were discussed until late at night, with the benevolent approval of both his father and mother. The highly intelligent student of national economy was the center of the group, as he already commanded respect as an orator and debater in meetings and public gatherings. Loewenstein had a very distinctive socialist attitude to which the hiking association "Makkabi", which he founded in Breslau in 1922, also tended. Therefore it was not surprising that he merged his group with Brith Haolim/JJWF, which regarded itself as the youth movement of the Palestinian working class, and in whose national leadership he entered the Bundestag in Auleben in 1926. 

 

However, Kurt Loewenstein was then no longer in Breslau. He had assumed the sectretaryship in the Rechtsrheinland and Westfalia Zionist Association located in Duisburg, whose chairman was Dr. Harry Epstein. This task and his close cooperation with Dr. Epstein shaped the Zionist politician and publicist once and for all. From Duisburg he began writing for the Jewish newspaper “Jüdische Rundschau”; inside the JJWB he was one of the main spokesmen for politicizing the association, or to be more precise, for the political education of its people, and in 1928 he was granted the sectratryship of the “Liga für das Arbeitende Palästina” (League for Working Palestine). 

 

The next year he decided to go to Frankfurt am Main to perfect his studies and carry out a large-scale research project under the supervision of professor Karl Mannheim. At the same time, he became editor of the major economic journal “Schuh und Leder” (“Shoe and Leather”) in which he published numerous technical essays and articles on fiscal policy. But he always maintained his ties to the Zionist world,and thus Dr. Robert Weltsch was no stranger when he asked Loewenstein in 1933 to join him in the editorial department of the weekly newspaper “Jüdische Rundschau”. 

 

We need not say much about  Kurt Loewenstein's "great" time in Berlin as editor of the “Jüdische Rundschau” until the end of 1938. Our readers are aware of what he achieved with his quill in the company of and in cooperation with Dr. Weltsch during this difficult and perilous period of his work under unusual and even unprecedented conditions. If  a test of his journalistic skills were required, he passed it during this time! When the “Jüdische Rundschau” received the order from the Nazi dictator to stop publication, Loewenstein came to Erez Israel with his family. Here he was forced to change his attitude completely. And he eventually succeeded in doing so. He became an official and then head of department for the insurance company “Hassneh” for which he worked until his retirement. At the same time, another field of journalistic work opened up for him. Almost from the first day of his immigration, he became a regular member of our “MB”, whose editorial management team he entered after being freed of the burdens of daily professional life. It is largely because of his great talents as a journalist, his deep and multifaceted education, and his ability to illustrate even complicated political and ideological problems that our newspaper was able to attain a level at which it found wide recognition. In our circle, Kurt Loewenstein will be irreplaceable. He used a unique form and style for what he had to say. Until his last day, it was our, his, “MB” which he worried about, and which now must get along without him, but aspires to maintaining his spirit.

 

Kurt Loewenstein, however, was by no means merely an orator or a general journalist. Just in the last decade, which allowed him to enjoy a bit more relaxation in his work-filled life, he published a range of important works which also demonstrated his great knowledge and skills. In an extensive presentation, he honored Dr. Georg Landauer, who had been his friend and teacher since his youth, as an educator. For a long time, he was occupied with the issue of “Jews in the modern world of mass-production”, which he eventually exemplified in a longer work about the two writers Hermann Brach and Elias Canetti. In another comprehensive essay, he described the “Begegnung zwischen Ost und West” (“Meeting between East and West”) which had become so fruitful for the Jews in Europe. In a 50-page essay about “the internal Jewish reaction to the crisis of German democracy”, which was published in the second edition of the Leo Baeck Institute's anthology “Year of Decision 1932”, he was able to express himself on the basis of his own views and experience. During the past few years, he was been spellbound by an observation of the stance of “Thomas Mann on the Jewish question”, the basics of which, however, he had already published in the Bulletin of the Leo Baeck Instute and which he later developed into a book which the Lambert Schneider Verlag, based in Heidelberg, is promoting in its program for 1974. Sadly, he was unable to make the final corrections to the manuscript and to see it published. 

 

He has left a void for us, his close friends and colleagues, which we will scarcely be able to fill. His death will always remind us painfully of many years of productive and harmonious teamwork. We are in mourning with his wife and his children and grandchildren, and we know that we have lost a special person whose life work will live on in our midst.

 

-HANS TRAMER

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